I love it when Jesus opens my eyes to new things… Especially when it involves other people. Before Jesus found me, I hated people who were not like me… different religions… colors… football teams… nationalities. I am so thankful to Jesus that He’s taken that away from me.
So this story begins with me being tired and flat-out exhausted. I drove down the street after work to get some coffee with two great friends and then headed home.
As I was heading home I just prayed for some opportunity to love someone and speak the Gospel. My wife was out-of-town, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get home. I didn’t know how this would happen, I just prayed it and believed it.
Something clicked and I felt drawn to drive downtown… BUT the sun was setting and I was ready to head home and be lazy in front of the TV. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was lazy. I decided to turn into the local Hindu temple (bet not everybody can say that) to see if there was someone meandering in the parking lot that I might felt drawn to… Nope… But the sun was setting behind the temple as I passed it and it was a powerful moment of realization of the urgency I should have with sharing the Gospel.
So to downtown I headed. I literally felt a draw to go downtown… BUT the sun was going down quick and I was tired, so I pulled into the local sporting goods store. And I prayed for God to bring someone to me, because I didn’t have a clue how this was going to work. So, I walked around the store. As I was so nonchalantly wandering down the boating aisle, I saw an employee come around the corner. I thought to myself, “Nope. That’s not fair. He’s supposed to start a conversation with me.” And… well… he didn’t. He walked on by. HOW DARE HE not start a conversation with me so I could so awkwardly tell him about Jesus! So I walked past the guns, past the clothes, and straight out of the front door. I really didn’t want to go downtown.
BUT, I went… grumbling and singing along with some Christian hip-hop. I thought all about how tired I was and all the reasons why this was stupid. I was going to take the exit to head deep downtown but knew I was supposed to keep going straight. And there he was. Dan. He was standing on what I hear is the most profitable homeless person corner. I pulled in the far right lane and stopped at the red light (Well… I have conveniently left out of the story the part where I passed him by… I tend to always get it wrong on the first try). I motioned for him and he came jogging over. I asked if he had eaten dinner and if he wanted to get something to eat. He told me he hadn’t eaten and would love to eat, but that he was also trying to get money for a place to stay for the night. The light turned green and I told him to stay put. I thought to myself, “I’m about to bring this man to my home for the night… but then I’d have to bring him back… How would that work? What hotels are around here?” I stopped and Googled hotels. I figured if I offered this man a meal and a hotel room I could have a captive audience with which to share the Gospel.
So I pulled around behind a building, parked my car, and walked to Dan’s intersection. I told him I would get him something to eat and get him a hotel room for the night. I told him I just wanted to bless him because I had been blessed. I didn’t want to give him some fruit off of my possession tree… That’s not the ‘blessing’ I wanted to share. I wanted to love him, just like Jesus loved me when I didn’t deserve it and had nothing to give back. I mean… How demeaning is it for a man to stand on a corner and beg for money? All he wants is some food and a place to lay his head. But you see him up ahead and change lanes. You look at him like he’s going to hurt you… when all he wants is your spare change. How do I know this is true? Because I told him how I used to roll my windows up and lock my doors when I saw a homeless person. And how Jesus has flipped my life upside down. And he told me how it feels to stand there and be looked down upon… to see cars change lanes to avoid him… to be looked at like he’s going to hurt you…
Dan is 42 years old. He’s originally from Tennessee.
I asked what he wanted to eat. He said he didn’t care. When you’re in his place, food is food… he wasn’t picky. I asked his favorite food… if he could have anything, what would he have? McDonald’s. He told me to take him to get a couple of hamburgers and he would be more than happy. I took him to a sandwich shop and told him to order whatever he wanted.
I empathized with him. He told me how hard it was to be willing to work and not be able to find any. He had done some landscaping work, but his boss didn’t need his help anymore.
He said he calls his family now and then… they don’t know his situation… but he thinks it makes them feel better to know he’s still alive.
I shared the prodigal son. I told him how this man’s son asked for his part of the inheritance, left, and blew it all… on dope and ho’s (Just kidding!… but seriously). How he wasted it away and basically told his father that he wished he was dead. He gave his father every reason to hate him. But when the son showed up, the father threw a party and loved him. Dan told me about some bad stuff he had done when we was coming up… Things that he thought God would never forgive him for. He learned about repentance and asking for forgiveness. “Honest repentance,” he said, “Asking for forgiveness and turning the opposite direction.”
He told me how sometimes he prays for things and they don’t come. He said he doesn’t give up, but he always starts to give in. And he said that is always the point when God answers.
Dan, Jesus was in front of a group of people and he looked at them and said, “If your son asks you for a loaf of bread, which of you will give him a snake?” If they wouldn’t do that to their sons, then how much greater of gifts will the Father give to us? Look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, Dan. Look at how he takes care of them. He will take care of you. Dan, even if things don’t get better in this life, Jesus said the least will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. You will be royalty, Dan. Clothed in Jesus’ righteousness for all eternity.
I took him to the hotel to get a room. The girl behind the desk asked who was spending the night. I told her Dan was and she looked at him and said, “Keep the room clean and don’t trash it.” I thought to myself, “Oh, great. I’m so naïve. This dude’s gonna have everyone over and be smokin’ and drinkin’ and my credit card number is on the room.”
He hadn’t showered in a month. He sleeps wherever he can. He sleeps on the street, but most of the time he’s afraid to because he doesn’t know what will happen to him during the night. He’ll just get behind a building… and sleep.
We took his stuff into the room. He put his sandwich in the fridge. He was so excited and thankful to God, because he was going to get to give his girl half of the sandwich. This man was enthralled by a sandwich and this provision… and he was only going to get half of it. All of this food that we throw away and this man is excited over a sandwich.
People can bring you shoes. People can bring you clothes. Take you to buy some food. They can even give you the change out of their cup holder.
But you’re still stuck. You’re still who you are. The only possible way to be a man again is by adoption. The only way for you to not be who you are is for you to be completely removed from your situation and handed everything that you need for a new beginning. There’s no way you’ll ever have a car. There’s no way you’ll ever be able to get a job at your age. There’s no way to keep up any self-respect and dignity when every day you’re literally kicked to the curb. Your bed is the street. The only ones you talk to are the ones you beg for money. But they don’t want to talk.
You’re like a child in an orphanage. Your orphanage is the street.
You don’t have the ability to make it on your own. Someone has to take you… and clothe you… and provide for you… and meet your needs.
Jesus commanded us to take care of the poor. But is one meal for one man enough? We were adopted as sons of God. Why do we not adopt those who are broken like we were? Can we bring a man into our home… and feed him… and clothe him? Why not?
Does this man truly need these things? Does he really made a new pair of clothes? Does he really need a meal every day? Does he really need communication with another human being? While we cannot give these things for all the people around us, we have the means to fulfill their true need for Christ. He’s a good, good Father.